Interim coach leads with personal style



Both the men’s and women’s track and field programs at FIU share a coaching staff. This staff is currently headed by Interim Head Coach Ryan Heberling, as early on in the season Former Head Coach Eric Campbell left his position.

Heberling has been at FIU for a quite some time. Not only has he coached at FIU for four full seasons but, was also a student-athlete here. This includes the fact that he owns three of the top 10 furthest javelin throws in university history. He graduated from the University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Along with that, he is a USA Track and Field Level I certified coach.

In his fourth season here he is working with talent and that is what he is used to. In 2011, he worked with multiple All-Sun Belt Conference athletes including Benia Gregoire, who was ranked within the top-35 in the country for the weight throw with a distance of 19.27 meters (63.22 feet) at the Clemson Invitational.

In 2012 Heberling coached multiple record breakers. Gregoire broke her 19.27 meter record with a weight throw of 20.77 meters (68.14 feet). Then freshman Raqurra Ishmar got three all-conference honors between indoor and outdoor. This helped her to become both indoor and outdoor SBC freshman of the year. Also, then first semester freshman Mike Montero broke records in the discus with a throw that beat a 10-year record.

In 2013, Heberling’s throwers scored 26 of FIU’s 51 points in the outdoor conference championships. During the indoor season however, the women placed third which came by help of three freshmen weight throwers in Miriam Pierre, Chelsea Gobourne, and Anesha Gordon, which was a program best.

“In the past we would always have our beginning of the season meeting and that was ‘Hey guys, here is the goal for the year, here is what we’re going to do’ and we wouldn’t meet again until conference, ” Heberling said. “The one thing that we are trying to introduce to the athletes now is that consistent goal for the team. We want good grades and we want to score a lot of points.”

Another goal besides consistency for Heberling is accountability.

“We want to have that well rounded program. We are trying to build a sense of accountability and so far just trying to make sure everything done so this feels like a legitimate experience that these kids signed up for,” Heberling said. “We have implemented weekly team meetings and occasionally have guest speakers to motivate the kids. Lizz Perrell, who has the record in the 800 meter race on the women’s side at the University and a lot of the kids didn’t know and could put the face to the time until they met her.”

One of the easy things for the coach is bringing in fellow alumni.

“We are trying to let them see how involved some of our alumni are. I have reached out to quite a few alumni to just come back, speak to the athletes, and make them feel like there is something bigger than what happens within these walls,” Heberling said.

Heberling does want to keep some of the aspects of the start of the season, when Campbell was the head coach, in tact.

“Finalizing the outdoor [season] schedule, signing some of those top recruits that we can,” Heberling said. “We really want the kids to not feel a burden at all. If we need to travel two trainers, small things like that which people wouldn’t really look into but not waiting to get treatment on a trip is big to me. The small things really matter. If the kids find out the itinerary for a trip that we are going on a few days earlier than they did before, it is small things like that. Hopefully next year we can implement that stuff from day one.”

The coach admits that the program has always been good but he is just trying to make it even better.

Heberling admits that it can be difficult to recruit as there is not a track on either campus.

“It can be difficult, and I always talk to our administration and I tell them that not having a track is not the worst thing in the world,” Heberling said. “Sometimes the athletes may really want it but we get to go to Miramar, which is one of the best facilities in the country. We have vans for that so the athletes don’t really feel any burden from that. I don’t feel like it is that hard but one of the things I try and sell here is an experience unlike any other university. You [the athletes] have a young, vibrant coaching staff who have experienced success either through their athletic endeavors, such as Coach [Wylleshia] Myrick who was one of the fastest women in the world when she ran. I’ve had a good group of athletes including Gregoire, who was an all-american for me.”

The coach is currently listed as the interim head coach and he stated his intentions for the future.

“Yes that [becoming head coach] is a goal and I am just trying to show through my actions and I can just hope that our academics come through, that we can have a good showing at the conference level, but at the end of the day I have been at FIU for almost 10 years now as both a student and a coach, and I am an alumni so I am very deeply invested in this but I just want to see the success of the program so whomever is the best person for that job it’ll happen as it may but we want to win right now and get great grades so let’s work hard. That is it,” Heberling said.

Heberling tied it up to what he thinks of himself.

“I may be young, but I have had my success,” Heberling said.


About the Author

Rhys Williams
: Sports Director, Class of 2016, Physical Education: Coaching (Major), Communication Arts (Minor), Sports Enthusiast with a Focus on Football and Track & Field.

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